Saturday, January 17, 2015

SUPERCOOL: Loofah, Luffa (Sponge Gourd) both edible vegetable and vegan kitchen or bath sponge

Luffa operculata 07
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I have a special love for "multipurpose plants" - and the following is simply supercool:

Grow a luffa gourd as vegetable.... and use the mature, then-inedible, vine-dried fruit as kitchen or bathroom sponge - an alternative to sea sponges.

Ridge gourd - Flügelgurke - Luffa acutangula

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Cucurbiataceae are an overall fascinating plant family, a mythical one - they provide us with easy-to-grow, super-healthy, tasteful and even medicinal staples as annual that provides an abundance of easy-to-save-seeds - and at the same time with durable products:

When you save their seeds, mostly there remains not more compost than a tiny piece of stem if you let the dried vine go back to the soil.

"Cultures from arid regions often associated gourds with water, and they appear in many creation myths. Since the beginning of their history, they have had a multitude of uses, including food, kitchen tools, toys, musical instruments and decoration.[4] Today, gourds are commonly used for a wide variety of crafts, including jewelry, furniture, dishes, utensils and a wide variety of decorations using carving, burning and other techniques.[11]"

quoted from Wikipedia

....and here comes Loofah, our rediscovered sponge-to-harvest from the vine.

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Cucurbiataeae are simple to grow, they need little attention, just enough water, sun and nutritious soil.

Let them dry on the vine.
Peel skin and shake out seeds from dried fruits, let them dry on in the sun, ready:

Some more words and links:

How To Grow..Luffa

Seed Saving:

Actually, seed saving goes hand in hand with creating your own sponges for Luffas: just cut off a bottom piece and shake the black, watermelon-like seeds out of the vin-dried fruit (respectively  luffa-sponge-to-be-dried-on.)

How To Harvest Your Luffa Sponges:

Here is how to harvest seeds and dry your gourds in great detail (e.g. the skin must not be totally dry, it can be easier to peel short before) :

It is such a simple and natural path, that you might consider to grow them for cheap local sale with a nice CI if you need money, supposed your warm period is long enough - they take 120 days to mature  for seeds/sponge harvest.

(But with permaculture's tricks to extend growing seasons most temperate climate readers until now can get there; Walpini; Rocket mass heated glass house via Geoff Lawton, check out Verge Permaculture on fb)
You do not even need a lot of space, beans and pumpkins love to grow, especially also vertical if supported well...though "only" annual, as this fable reminds us.

Alciato 1550
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And here the Loofahs, of Luffas mingle with sponges from the sea in a greek shop...can you recognise them, lighter, in the right back ?

*All plant profiles/posts are wiki-posts and might be updated with cool additional information